Random Encounters

The other day I went about my patrol business as usual. It’s a strange charge and a difficult burden being the park ranger for the Mysterious Island beyond the reaches of many imaginations. Boiling coffee in a hat can be a drag. Pulling improvised cosmic torpedoes out of your bag of tricks is a common state of affairs.

Then those ding dang killer bees started making noise in the main hallway of the honeycomb hideout. What is that crazy noise?

They’re all set with sweet sweet honey for the winter, plenty of mega-zhord stings stored up for a beastly Spring of ultimate bushwhack, and wing music beats from the sampladelic depot near party central to keep them warm. They may make surprise jackup-in-the-box snow strikes in time for Xmas Not, just you wait Henry Higgins!

That’s what that noise is. Those glorious, outrageous, thrilling vuvuzellas that made the world wince and tremble during World Cup time. The videos were enough to make me tremble with longing, such awesome noise—noise—noise!

A lot of Grinches were pretty put out by those things, laughably complaining that they should be banned because they were “too low”. This from a sport that invented the term “football hooligans.”

Methinks it was a little bit of the ol’ jealousy of being outdone to infinity, mixed in with a general dislike of brown people.

I used to have a red vuvuzella when I was a kid and lived in New Hampshire. Ivy league students would blow them furiously during an annual bonfire in the central park of the university I lived beside.

I thought it was outstanding, so I badgered my folks into getting me one. Wasn’t hard, as they liked the noise too. Though the scale could hardly compare to those videos on YouTube—that sound was epic, man.

Broke my vuvuzella and forgot about it, until the killer bees reminded me.  “Hey, like dig, right? Remember that thang you used to have and blow every now and then? Check it out, it came back and you shluffed the notice.”

Argh! They’re right. As much as I am listening and straining with all my might to understand, still the boundless life rushes past me in countless ways.

This time, I gather to myself a number of mp3s of the noise—noise—noise, droning incessantly like a world of bees insisting that the people awaken. Awaken to judgment and resurrection to the sound of trumpets blaring in a chorus of people answering angels with a swarming sound of “yes!”

This gets me back in the frame of mind of beekeeping. Not just the physical manifestation, but also the psychic one. Of hearing the sound and recognizing my own innate calling to myself of the call.

Xmas Not is coming, and the Grinch came sliding down in a sleigh blaring a trumpet having awakened his heart.

The Celtic new year has just gotten underway, and here I am a little dazed at the last year of activity. Never mind all the nuclear meltdowns spewing radiation from afar, east coast earthquakes that feel like a jackhammer wedging of earth, hurricanes of doom missing by a few hundred feet, and rainfall soaking the loch above levels I’ve not seen since I can remember. The external world has been an expression of an inner volcano clearing its throat for an eruption.

Building a UFO can seem a little like a Noah’s Ark project at times like these.

Internally, all my life energies have gone into deep, sweeping currents rushing through the earth. I’ve had to get by on emergency life support and reserve warp only. Right at a time when I’ve been fighting a lot of battles on the home front. Lucerna’s kung fu lessons have basically kept me alive long enough to adapt to the transformational energies going on. The last year has essentially been panic and fear, dialed way up for sustained periods of time. The blinking and beeping lights on the emergency panel have been loud and overwhelming.

Thank goodness for the life support music from UFO girl!

In other news, it ain’t just me. Hek-sistah X is off on a retreat to re-visit places of great meaning to her, Hexe the Incorrigible is recovering from illness, and Alexi is busy fighting for his dream in a new land. The Quest Station is full of notes and doodles galore, all around adventure is ON THE GHOD-DAM AIR.

The garden is in shut down procedure, cats are in snuggle mode, and the honeycomb hideout and killer bees are settling in for the long winter. And it’s going to be a doozy—ran into a wooly bear and it had no orange stripes, which means you better be stocked in the larder and armed with plenty of anti-ice-weasel traps. Ol’ winter wolf has reared up dramatically and her howl is driving away the last of the summer lifeforce. Batten down the hatches and brace for impact at your stations of the cross, icy depth charges ahoy.

I made sure to give out lots of candy to the monsters dressed as humans and the kids dressed as monsters, while I still have candy to sacrifice.

You see them at the portals of shopping establishments. Mechanisms containing candy or cheap prizes which dispense them for the price of inserting small change.

Children are especially susceptible to these small change bandits, with their cranking knobs and randomly released surprises.  The displays promise cool little toys or a delicious flavor experience if only you will take the plunge!

Usually what you get is predetermined—only different kinds of rubber balls or a figure from a collection—or the prize is lame.  You wanted the cheap metal skull ring and got a plastic pink smiley face instead.  The gum is good for about five seconds and then turns to sticky, tasteless wall sealant.  Sometimes, the machine doesn’t give you anything at all.

What a rip off!

Teaches a valuable lesson, however, doesn’t it? Beware of getting ripped off! All is not as it seems.

Yet we return again and again, hoping this time will be different.  Sometimes you get a halfway decent prize or experience, and then your parents are tired of waiting for you or don’t have any more change.

Oh yeah, this was like a religious observance for me. And there are many permutations of the gumball machine experience let me tell you!

One time at a Hardee’s hamburger joint, I discovered the back door so to speak.  The gumball machine only worked with tokens that you had to obtain by ordering something.

This particular gumball machine was enclosed in a kind of decoration, with the front flush to an opening where you accessed the machine.  I found that my arm was thin and wiry enough to reach up and down between the gap.

This enabled me to grab handfuls of prizes at a time!  I managed to fill my pockets before an employee noticed the crowd of kids watching me in awe and chased me out. Those prizes were some of the best I ever got too.

Then there are times when you come across a machine and everything you get is cool.  Neat stuff on a roll, and you run out of change.  When you come back the next day, however, the machine is gone!  Rip off!  But you still got some good loot, so it’s not a total rip off.

One time in Japan, in a remote mountain village I came across a gumball machine with small metal medieval weapons. Alas, I only had enough change to get three of these super cool items! Then I had to go and I couldn’t come back, due to my traveling schedule.  That’s how it goes!

In a sense, the gumball machine is a manifestation of the monstrance, that container that holds the sacred host.  It’s not unlike a dragon guarding treasure, or a form of the ordeal you face when you go on an adventure.

You pay your fare and take your chances. What is released is what you need—a tiny companion, a tool of play, a moment of sweetness—these are no small thing when one adventures in the depths of the soul! The worthless, useless thing turns out to be the most important of all.

These mechanisms may have been invented to separate children from their parent’s money in exchange for some “magic beans”, but even the charlatan may find themselves peddling rather more serious wares when destiny takes an intervening hand.

Everywhere you go, machines of meditation, teaching lessons as surely as any Kung Fu master to those who will listen. The time may come when we see how advanced these pieces of technology really are.

I was reading a blog post today (which vanished and then came back), where the blogger did a shout-out to their call to adventure.

Basically going over what they had done in the past.  A recitation of their years of struggling with ordinary life, leading up to the moment in which they realized they needed to return to their quest.

We meditate like this, going over our treaded paths again and again until we see.

What stood out to me in their shout-out was the the early part.  About going out into the world on their adventure ready to die for the cause of goodness.  I thought rather than die for it, maybe the real adventure is to live for the cause of goodness.

The thing about goodness is that it can’t exist except in the face of evilness.  What does one do when one finds out they are the enemy?

Yet, evil spelled backwards is live.  Recognize the shadow at our feet.  As surely as the moment when Luke Skywalker standing triumphant over his father takes a moment to stare hard at his mechanical hand, we all have to eat a bit of dirt before we die.

Adults telling us how great we will be—putting their fears and hopes into us with their grandiose, inflated expectations might be one of those most horrific things they do to children.  It sets us up for disappointment and distracts us from our real nature.

What if we aren’t so great?  What if we are far from destined for glory?  Is it so bad to sweep floors and be content?

The temptation to imagine grand fantasies of our self-importance is one of the most devious tricks the One Ring plays on Samwise, filling his head with leading an army to defeat the Dark Lord and save the day.  Wisely, he turns away from this projected image and remembers that he’s just an average Joe.

Taking the One Ring to throw down the Dark Lord (and take his place!) or carrying on with the worst burden imaginable—which is the most glorious and noble act (if there is such a thing)?

“There’s a way to live with earth and a way not to live with earth.”

Holding on to one’s dreams and confronting the expectations society places on us are both common themes for women adventurers.  The system wears a black cape and works long hours draining the lifeblood out of dreams, distracting people with duty and responsibility.

Ultimately, the hero/heroine must surrender and die to themselves if they are to avoid being the tyrant of tomorrow.  This is the part of the journey known as the sparagmos—the tearing asunder, the sacrifice of the hero in the fire, the destruction and plunge into the abyss.

Evil. A failure. A nobody. Empty dreams and a lifetime of carrying buckets.

“I will fight no more forever.”

The labyrinth is filled with the bones of those who cried out in despair until they expired, lost in the woods to be picked apart by wargs…or worse.

People forget that what they imagine is real. The Black Hats are packing real guns and really do shoot women and children in the back.  Both in real life and in fantasy.

Hey! What are you doing listening to that voice telling you to get up? Stay down and scrub that floor, drone!

The Prophet Gibran speaks of evil being good tortured by hunger and thirst, drinking of dark waters by necessity.  That to stumble is only to walk without balance and may lead to a surer step.  Even a lost person may find their way, just as truly as a wicked person may step out of the mist and find themselves in sun.

Failure is discovery, and in our screw ups are found salvation! Even a nobody is somebody, for nothing is something.  Dreams can strike without warning and waken you to the secret Kung Fu concealed by a lifetime meditation of waxing on and off cleaning the floors.

It’s stupid and foolish, and pointless, but we crawl on.  We live, transformed and transfigured by dying in our minds.

Humbled, head bowed on hands and knees, we see the glint in the dirt.

The camel throws off its burdens and becomes a lion.  To the sounds of tumultuous thunder, you stand up.

“The wolves are running.”

Can you feel all the heroines who passed on to become queens through the ages standing beside you, dazed as you are?

The lengthy and lonely moments of longing and hoping, of wondering are a feature not a bug—or if they are a bug then they are the secret and hidden Goldbug!  Now you can see what is before your eyes and truly behold the treasure you were seeking.

Time to get to do the thing, lioness.  You have one more change to undergo and recognize before you complete the journey.

Now begins a different set of challenges. Only this time you can see in the night, having accepted the darkness inside your own self.

Back in the college days of yore I encountered a mighty strange phenomenon.  In the student center there was a dining area for all the students on the generic meal plan (which at the time was called SAGA, or as it was nicknamed in fun, Soviet Attempt to Gag America; ironic since it was a liberal arts college).

Basically, you’d be sitting there eating your meal (usually dinner) and someone would say, “Rat-hump.” Someone else would say a little louder, “RAT-HUMP.” Then the real contest would begin: There would be a rush to see who could say “RATT-HUUMP!” the loudest without being embarrassed.

These things happen.

Just the other day on the FaceCrook channel my colleagues in college were doing the still-alive-but-past-life analysis in order to revisit this strange irrational gift from the beyond.  Alas, like all mysteries we could not find a suitable answer.

Where did it come from? Who brought it into being? The seed of this break in so-called well-behaved discourse must have come from somewhere reasonable and rational, right?  Right?!

I talked to the “cool” people of that time period, and they refused to say.  Maybe they know too much! In any case I got nothing on that angle.

I spoke with the folks from the period before where it might have manifested. They knew nothing.

The rational minds of the crew came up with some interesting (NSFW) origins of the word, but not quite the practice:

  • This blog provides general analysis.
  • Google Books references placing clues in 1922.
  • Democratic Underground digs up the popular culture graveyard.

My initial rant went as thus in the discussion:


Rat-hump is used in an escalating declarative sense to achieve a conscious recognition.

  • Step 1: “There is a rat-hump, hello!”
  • Step 2: “No, there’s a rat-hump, HELLO!”
  • Step 3: +1 until consciousness raising achieved.

At which point someone recognizes that yes, there is a rat-hump and someone’s face is red. In other words ritual re-enactment of “shock the monkey”, in which we all participate in the recognition of “crap thru a goose” life.

So the definition is rat-hump as a state of mind in which one realizes one is rat-humped, or someone you know is rat-humped.  QED: we are alive and life is rat-hump, Gloria Et Domine or Kyrie depending on where you stand on the rat-hump wheel at that particular moment


Spontaneous affirmation of life through a subversive exclamation of experience? Such things are among us now, refusing to allow our mere reason or tyrannical infant-services to repress them.


I’ve heard tell that our foolishness is a redemptive quality.  So today I invite the fool in for some snacks.

Dancing beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.

064_an_old_friendGetting on Facebook last year has been a real life-changer for me.  Getting back in touch with the people who matter has been a major part of that.

The other day a friend asked about a mutual friend’s birthday and all I could remember was she was Pisces. That’s when he let me know she’s been missing since 1998 during a trip in Malaysia.

Holy smoke, wind out of my sails. I had to do some Google Fu to find out the details. Crumbs, what was I doing on June 28 of that year?  Developments three years later don’t do much to inspire hope.

Molly Kleinman.

We met my freshman year of college.  She let me borrow her audio cassette copy of U2’s Wide Awake In America, which was the first time I’d gotten to hear the whole thing—that was a meaningful day for me I still can see clearly in my mind.  She borrowed my copy of the Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill.  We both loved the song “Paul Revere”; one time we sang it together.  We really dug that damn song.  That was when we became friends.

The two of us had different interests, but our social circles overlapped so I ran into her every now and then.

Then my senior year we dated on and off; kind of one of those inexplicable things that just happens. We never became a couple; both of us were too busy searching for our identities to bridge the differences in interests we had.

But, damn, those strange dates we went on still linger in my mind. I think she tried to show me things about herself that maybe no one ever knew. Like an idiot, I didn’t pay enough attention to reckon with that.

The last time I saw her in person was an all-day date-but-not-date.  I had lunch with Molly and her house mates, then the two of us hung out in her room and talked, while proceeding to get bombed.  She was interested in this other guy and asked me what I thought of him.  I recited awful poetry to her.

We talked about life plans and then for some reason we laughed together—laughed a good damn long time.  We walked down the street to a Thai food place, then spent a while on her porch talking about things which sadly I’ve forgotten.

Next I heard of her she was hanging out with that guy.  Then she was in Florida for what might have been related to her field (she was a biology major, I think).  She dropped off my radar after that (Hek, a lot of folks dropped off my radar during that time).

But I always called up her memories from time to time.  Who can explain the strange currents of our lives, the reasons people make strong impressions on us?  I thought she was cool.  She was always nice to me.

It’s weird, her having been gone for so long, that I only now hear of it.  I’ve been working on listening a lot to the things I haven’t heard this last year and a half.  Time to break out “Paul Revere” and sing like a stupid fool.

Hey Molly, thanks for hanging out with me in these space time coordinates.


Way back in the days of great doom there used to be this crazy cable station that played music videos all the time.  For those of us too poor to afford access to this fountain of culture, there were television shows with videos.  That is, when you didn’t have to pay cable companies for the privilege of television with commercials.

One such television show was Friday Night Videos. They showed many if not most of the popular videos, along with a handful of oddities.  Had a rockin’ intro too.  It was like a weekly ritual with my folks and me for a while.

Friday Night Videos disappeared. But it was okay because the crazy cable station moved down to the level of “standard fare” and I could see videos galore. It was a golden age of seeing what was happening in music for me.

Then a strange thing happened–the cable channel began mixing shows in with the videos. At first it was edgy programming like Beavis and Butthead and The Maxx. But slowly, those videos faded away until all that was on were fake reality programs and weird attempts at gameshows.  The videos disappeared.

Rumor had it they’d moved to a clone station somewhere.  They lost me.  See, this thing called the Internet had become the place to hang out and hear the latest.  I remember when I first heard of MP3—I thought it was crap and would never catch on (dial-up was still the rule then).

My folks got rid of their cable subscription.  The free channels are awesome, because they aren’t beholden to the big corporations (there’s no money in “only commercials TV”) and you can see things you don’t normally see anymore.  Local stuff.  Personal stuff. International stuff that isn’t whitewashed with Hollywood phony baloney culture.

I don’t miss the cable.  The other day, Comcast came through the neighborhood with a two-man team.  They sent one guy one day and the other guy the next day—my guess is to wear down resistance and get past first-impression blocks due to psychology incompatibilities.  They were hyper aggressive and refused to take no for an answer, trying to barge in and sign us up.

See, when I had Comcast their service was horrible and their product stunk.  I’ll never go to them again, even if it means no television.  All these tactics do is remind me how much I hate them and never want to hear from them again.  It also makes me laugh because if this is their new tactic—they are desperate for cash and just don’t get why.

The new economy is about consumers getting what they want, when they want it.  You can’t ram stuff down our throats anymore.  Unwanted, irrelevant, inconvenient come-ons and advertising gets NO PLAY with me.  And from the attitudes of these guys, and the look on their faces when I said I only watch Netflix or the Internet, I can tell I’m not alone.

K, the folks, and I sat down on Friday and watched a free television program come on.  Two hours of videos, from mainstream acts to obscure weirdoes and local artists.  It blew our minds how cool this stuff was.  Friday Night Videos is gone, but its spirit is back and better than ever.  We sat down as a family and watched with an excitement we haven’t felt in years.

Rock on UFO Girl, rock on.

My job stuff, along with romantic stuff, is off limits on this blog-a-roo.  But again I find exceptions creeping in.  Something Captain Picard in Star Trek: TNG said about laws being unjust as long as they are absolute.  That is, inhuman.

Inexplicably, a tale from my past keeps coming back to me this holiday season, and so I must reckon with it.  That is, after all, the purpose of this starship adventure I find myself traveling along.

There was this time I allowed love to enter into my house, and it tore my furnishings asunder as if it had been one terrible tumult of super-accelerated fireballs.  You see—I received as an Xmas gift a CD of an album I listened to in depth a great deal during this time.

I’d already been thinking of my past love in the crumbled corners of my mind, but to get those songs (and cheesy, adolescent songs they seem to me now—though still with great meaning) at this time, it’s as if I’m opening up a door I’d held long closed.  One I’d rather not revisit, as pleasant and as magical as some of the things I’d jammed behind it are.

But enough!  Wraiths of torment, I release you from your burdens of guarding these treasured memories.  Away with the tender keepsakes and wondrous insights of affection dwelling in a tightened tomb.  Let treasures sparkle in bright sun and with open offering to those who find them compelling.

Not into the dark, but into the light where this soft, glowing memory howls in vivid, windswept peaks and heat-soaked hills of elevated spaciousness.

I’m remembering a certain love I got to know during tennis class.  Our late night talks together, one of which led to our first passionate kiss.  The laser Van Halen show we watched together, and the smoked oysters we had one night in my room.  Walking alone in a field at night and collapsing with giddy delight so strong I had an out-of-body-experience.

Then the frustrations and misunderstandings with one another.  Each of us wanting different things and not having the wisdom to either recognize that or work it out.  Culminating in a break up in a hamburger diner that no longer exists, the two of us going our separate ways yet heartbroken and shaken by passions perhaps no human being knows how to make whole.

She married my rival and has a family now.

Me, I would wander many cold and empty paths to come.  Into darkness so terrible many never come back.  But I came back and I didn’t know why or how.

Now I know why.  I said, “yes.”

Yes to love no matter what the consequences.  It sent me straight to hell, but I held onto it fast as painful and disappointing as love turned before it tossed me aside face first into knowledge of my own death.

To those who have loved, that is how you answer evil.  You say yes.

Yes!  Yes, a wonderful word, a word of freedom and expanse, which releases all bonds and opens the door to the buried secrets you kept within.  Hoping beyond hope that an understanding would come.  That it would make sense before you die.

Could I ever have imagined I would share this now, in this time, with the whole universe of those who use computers?  To try and unburden my soul of even a smidgen of the choices I have made and bear the blame for?

Down the rabbit hole and up again, to witness the vast expanse of what love transforms before us.

Believe it!

Michael the cat surprised K and I by having a repeat episode of his bladder stones. The first time was two weeks after we had moved into the haunted house and were reeling from the major blow of circumstance that caused it.

This time the physical emergency was an upping of the ante. Kidney stones now in the mix (which might be solved by diet—the vet said they can’t remove them because it shocks the organ into permanent shutdown), and a stone in the pipe keeping him from venting the warp core plasma.  Not good!

Poor guy; Not only vacuuming our wallet but several days of poking, prodding, and other indignities from strangers. Away from his comforts. Plus he has a heart condition and is thirteen years old now, not good for his prognosis.

Right as we’re about to make a trip to spend time with K’s relatives, of course.  Now we have to do a day trip of four hours round total, so we can be back to check Michael’s status.  According to the weather fortune-teller, roads on the way back are going to be icy.

Michael is a pigpen, dirtbag jerk of a cat with a lot of bad cards in the health department.  But he’s tough and it’s K and I’s karma to be at his mercy, so I knew he’d pull through. He gave the vet a nasty bite for trying to give him a bath (K and I don’t call him towel-ripper for nothing, he will not be bathed, thank you). Go Michael, go!

Gamera is such an awesome monster car; He pulled us through the drive fine. The midnight Christmas threshold passed with us on the road through the cold and dark night taking the easy-does-it route home. Still, harrowing such that bed never felt so good with a face full of pillow.

I wake up Christmas morning to find a fog has descended on the neighborhood. It’s likely the warmer air mixing in with the cooler air of the blizzard snow pack.  The activity of the automatons is subdued, as if this holiday season pushed people to the brink of exhaustion. The kids shriek as they rip and tear, but the snow surrounds their enthusiasm, keeping it secret and safe. Michael rests on his favorite towel, content to have comfort restored.

Time for coffee. Frankie guard-cat and I sit upstairs in the crow’s nest and gaze at the fog together.  My friend Alexi should be in Orlando by now, jumping into the fray with his hair shaved off and starting a new life adventure like a Juke Box Hero.

Another random encounter Xmas survived; Can’t complain.

« Previous PageNext Page »